A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Repair And Restoration

Handguard Upgrade

Bodge Date - 09 February 2018

By Ren Withnell

Roy at work has a certain sense of appreciation regarding my handguards. I suppose he understands that I made an effort to create something from scratch rather than just hand money over to someone. He himself has created a few rather smart tables from pieces of metal and old scaffolding boards, he's that kind of chap.

The difference is that his tables are not just solid and functional they are also smart, complete, finished and well presented. A person of taste would be proud to have one in their kitchen and to invite guests to dine upon it. Obviously my handguards are merely functional. 

Roy relentlessly presses me to paint the metal at least to cover the rust. Personally I can't see the metal rusting through in my lifetime so it's not an issue.

On the 500 the original plastic part of the guard, the weather protection part as opposed to the structural metal part, was created from a place mats my mother gave me. You know the sort of thing - about 40cm by 25cm to go under your plate to prevent scratching the highly polished table top. 

The original handguards with flimsy plastic weather protection
The original gaurds worked well for testing purposes.
The original handguards as fitted to the CBF125
The CBF got some too made from an oil tub.

They did the trick in terms of proof of concept but they were a little flimsy. I'd bashed one side when pulling the bike out the shed and the plastic shattered in the cold winter's air. The other side was already showing signs of weakness too as the miles took their toll.

Roy suggested using one of the countless empty chemical tubs that are thrown away almost daily at work. They're the right kind of plastic and they have readily formed curves in them. I look and touch one. He's right you know, he's not stupid. I find myself riding home with one retrieved from the skip and strapped to the back of the 125. 

A standard slightly opaque 25 litre liquid container
This is the sort of thing, you get the idea.

This plastic can be cut with a wood saw. Or a hacksaw. Or a Dremel. Or it can be ground down on my bench grinder. I know these things now. I also know the curve of the plastic shallows out greatly once the sides of the barrel are released from the top and bottom. Damn, but there's still some curve left so that's fine.

2 hours of hacking and grinding later I have 2 approximately the same pieces of plastic shaped to fit. I fit them to the 500 and I am happy with my efforts. I still have a lot of plastic left so another hour and a half of hacking and grinding later I have to new handguards on the 125 too. 

The new larger plastic handguards fitted to the CB500X
I am a genius of deisgn and build.
The plastic has been shaped to clear the fairing on the Honda
Neatly shaped to clear the fairing on full lock.
The mounts are sturdy and did not need to be altered
The original mounts are strong and study, I did not need to change these.
The CBF 125 also has new plastic on the hand guards
The CBF aslo has shiny new bits of plastic.
The CBF hand guards are not as sturdily mounted but still working just fine
The mounts are less sturdy but they're up to the task.

Yes of course they look a bit rough. Yes of course I haven't polished the plastic to a bright white sheen. However this plastic is study and these guards are a little larger then the originals which means they offer better weather protection. 

Look if you want to clean them, polish them and paint them then be my guest. But no matter how clean and well painted they are it won't make them last any longer nor will they offer any better weather protection.

Speaking of protection. I rode to work on the 125 during a -3°C morning. Handguards will NOT keep your pinkies warm and toasty. What I find for myself is they reduce the cold from debilitating, painful, gnawing and god-awful to nippy and chilly yet manageable. If it's raining they won't keep your gloves dry but they do keep the worst of the soaking away. Logically enough the greatest improvements come when you're at speed rather than stuck in traffic.

I am very happy with my DIY handguards. If you think they're ugly then that's your prerogative. 

If you'd like Ren to try out your real proper handguards then drop him a line at ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Oooooh, sensitive!

I think they look OK actually although I would have taken off the rough edges.

They also look a bit flimsy - don't they flap about?

I also like the cheap wristwatch rather than an expensive bike-specific type. I have something similar on the Guzzi. If only my bits would come back from the painter......
9/2/2018 2:28:32 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Sensitive? Meeeee?!?

Yes I cry myself to sleep every night worrying about how you and the other reader think of me.

The plastic is quite stiff. I'd estimate it to be akin to the plastic found on a cheap top box - not incredibly strong but sturdy enough. No, they don't flap at all.

As for the wrist watch. I went upmarket and spent almost £10 at Argos for this particular chronometer. It is 100% waterproof, keeps time acceptably well and if someone steals it then meh, pfffft. It has sat there these last 5 years with nary a grumble. The only thing is at night I have to wait for a street lamp to know the time.

Why is the Guzzi in paint?
9/2/2018 5:08:02 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"Why is the Guzzi in paint? "

You may remember I posted a couple of pics when I bought it. Very amateurish aerosol spray job and a dreadful cut-down front mudguard. As I got the bike at a reasonable price I thought it deserved a nice professional paint job.

I was warned that the chap I selected was a little slow and now realise why......

10/2/2018 10:23:07 AM UTC
Bob said :-
Nowt wrong with them! You just look like a courier from the 1980's - which to me is always the coolest motorcycles and motorcyclists have ever, or will ever look.
10/2/2018 3:43:31 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Bob! Glad to see someone likes a good bodge.

I've spent a morning with people trying to explain colour and aesthetic to me. I don't get it. Paint is a product with the purpose of stopping metal from rusting in this instance. The colour of the paint is coincidental.

I guess I'm never going to be a custom motorcycle creator. I can see my dreams of being the British Orange County Choppers slipping away from me.
10/2/2018 6:05:02 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
It's not use I just have to say it. ..

Your as tight as a camels arse in a sandstorm.

I'm going to buy you a set of heated grips I can't bear the thought of you making a set from an electric blanket or some under floor heating or a rabbit hutch heating system.
10/2/2018 8:00:49 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I know a fair few people who love their heated grips but I never got on with them. I found myself with sweaty palms and frozen fingers. I think they confused my body.

I've also seen a few flattened batteries.

Underfloor heating for rabbit hutches you say? I wonder if that'd work in the tent....
10/2/2018 9:00:05 PM UTC
Roy said :-
Still need to paint the metal though mate.cant believe ya happy doing half a job
13/2/2018 6:55:33 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Then don't call me Arfa fer nuffink. Arfa Job Ren.
13/2/2018 10:50:33 AM UTC
Glenn said :-
British Orange County Choppers may not be in your future but I see a huge success as a rat bike builder.
Oh wait, it seems form is more important than function even there.

3/6/2018 3:28:13 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Wen I wur a lad there wur a clear definition of a rat bike.

It had to be a development over a period of years. Things were bodged to save money not to create a certain look. Additions were practical not aesthetic. Dirt was collected with distance not applied. The bike was a hack not a creation.

So when I see a modern rat creation I scoff like any old fuddy duddy curmudgeon should. Bah HUMBUG!
3/6/2018 6:45:19 AM UTC
tahrey said :-
Heh, one thing I've found to work well for a 125 is a couple of those 6-pint milk bottles. If you don't normally get through a lot of milk it means having an unusual amount in your fridge for a few weeks and playing chicken with it going off, but it does mean the bottles are notionally free, and technically no more than about three quid fifty even if you pour the contents away immediately.

Cut one side off, including a small notch in the neck to get them around the bars (the inner diameter is almost exactly the same), poke a few holes for zip ties to run through, then start improvising the fit to see how and where you can tie on, where more of the plastic needs to be cut away, etc.

Set I made several years ago are still sitting in my garage waiting refitting for this winter season, once I get the rest of the machine fixed. Between those, waterproofed gloves and a cheap set of hotgrips (which are starting to die, even though the bottles are fine), makes cold and wet weather riding so much more comfortable and practical.
29/10/2018 2:23:42 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
tahrey - have you got any images of your milk carton handguards? Makes it easier for we cheapskates to create and craft our very own. Unless you have a patent pending...?
29/10/2018 6:27:38 PM UTC
tahrey said :-
They're currently buried at the back of the garage, but I'll see about digging them out. I'll want to fit them if the bike actually gets back on the road, after all.

Might be a bit of a mission transferring image from reality to web though. Somewhere in my phone there is already a photo of the utter wreckage I made of the fork seals, which is to go onto the appropriate page, but I've been put off so far by just how long it takes to get my phone to connect to the computer, then the photo folder file list to actually load in. Like the latter takes somewhere in the region of 5 to 10 minutes, and if you disturb it in any way it tends to restart. Makes things a bit painful, especially as I don't want to upload the monstrous full resolution version direct from phone to webpage.

This time last year I had two proper digital cameras but in the space of a couple of months one got lost in the sea (...long story) and the other died after ~10 years of faithful service. Just got the phone now :/
7/11/2018 6:15:03 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Damn that technology!
7/11/2018 9:55:26 PM UTC

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